President Barack Obama waves to the crowd on the upper deck of Hec Edmundson Pavilion during the rally for Sen. Patty Murray’s campaign.
The roars of a 10,000-strong crowd reverberating in the Hec Edmundson Pavilion, along with the cheers of 3,000 more fans who overflowed into Husky Stadium, welcomed the U.S. president to campus yesterday.
President Barack Obama spoke at the UW to rally for votes for Sen. Patty Murray, whose U.S. Senate seat is challenged by Republican candidate Dino Rossi in the November election.
“She’s helped a lot of people … and now she needs our help so she can keep fighting for you in the United States Senate,” Obama said to the crowd yesterday. “If everybody who voted in 2008 shows up in 2010, we will win this election.”
Along with Obama, ASUW President Madeleine McKenna, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Democratic candidate for U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, Reps. Jay Inslee and Norman Dicks, and Gov. Chris Gregoire also spoke in support of the incumbent at the Murray-campaign-sponsored “Get Out the Vote Rally.”
The speakers highlighted Murray’s political record, which includes the passage of both health care reform and the financial regulation bill during her tenure as senator, as well as her support of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA).
SAFRA, which was included on the health care reconciliation bill that was signed into law in March, ends federal subsidies to private student-loan lenders, using those savings to expand federal aid to college students, as well as to fund other education programs.
“The truth is that we’re not going to fill … jobs in this century if students are dropping out because of the burden of college loans. And you know what? For too long student loans have … benefited banks, not you,” Murray said to the students in the audience.
Several of the speakers also strongly criticized the opposition’s policies.
“Patty Murray’s opponent has the distinction of being the first candidate in the country to call for repeal of Wall Street reform,” Obama said. “Think about this … a financial meltdown that plunged America and the world into catastrophe, and he thinks we should go back to the old rules that got us into that mess.”
Some in the audience, however, criticized Democratic policies.
“I don’t agree with the majority of what [Democrats] are doing,” said David Stryzewski, a 27-year-old UW Bothell graduate who supports Dino Rossi. “… [Obama] is a smoke and mirrors show.”
Kartik Rishi, a UW freshman at the rally who called himself “a very strong Democrat supporter,” noted the level of criticism of the opposition when reflecting on the event.
“There was a bit of name-calling out there regarding what the other side is advocating. I guess that kind of happens when the elections are really close,” he said.
Rishi said he sent his ballot prior to the event, but UW freshman Jessica Iwuoha still planned to finish hers, and said she was swayed to vote for Murray by the rally.
“It was amazing; [Obama is] a great speaker. It really brought out publicity for Patty Murray,” she said. “I didn’t know much about her until he came and talked about her. … I’m definitely about to go [vote] when I get back to my dorm.”
ASUW President McKenna rallied for all students to vote in the upcoming elections.
“The cynics say that youth excitement about voting ended in 2008,” McKenna said. “I think that we can safely say that we’re here to prove the cynics wrong. I see students here missing class … and we’re here because we know what’s at stake in November.”
Obama’s Seattle visit yesterday was the third high-profile Democratic rally for Murray this month. Vice President Joe Biden endorsed the incumbent at UW Tacoma on Oct. 8 and former President Bill Clinton rallied in Everett on Monday.
Multimedia Producer Katelin Chow and reporter Andrew Doughman contributed to this report. Reach News Editor Joanna Nolasco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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